BabyJake, "Cigarettes On Patios" (24kGoldn Remix)
Rising alternative singer-songwriter BabyJake's 2019 breakout single is further elevated by an assist from rapper 24kGoldn, who happened to land his first Hot 100 topper last week. Come for the undeniable piano melody, stay for 24k's cheeky promise to get "higher than the mountains."
Fitz, "Head Up High"
The Fitz and the Tantrums leader has gone solo, and "Head Up High" is a promising first chapter. Over acoustic guitar and catchy horns, the singer-songwriter (born Michael Fitzpatrick) sings about the "headache and a heartache" of these pandemic times. In a statement, he says he wanted to write "a song to rally everybody to keep their heads above water." We’re trying, Fitz!
Sophia Messa, Pink Sweats, “Made”
Brazilian-American singer Sophia Messa and "Honesty" star Pink Sweats might seem like an unlikely pair, but Messa’s spun-sugar vocals and Sweats’ soulful timbre make for perfect harmony. “Everyone has qualities about themselves they don’t love -- or qualities that society uses to treat you differently,” Messa says in a release. “Instead of feeling ashamed, we should all embrace how we were made.” As winter approaches all too soon, "Made" is a soothing balm for the chapped soul.
Blackstarkids, "Acting Normal"
Kansas City’s Blackstarkids (Ty, Deoindre and The Babe Gabe) are at the height of their powers on their third album Whatever, Man, the highlights of which are the effervescent “Britney B--ch” and LP opener "Acting Normal." Look out for cameos from Dirty Hit labelmates Matty Healy of The 1975 and Beabadoobee on track 5, and be sure not to miss any of the interludes from the fictional radio host (“This is Claire Mitchell and you're listening to Totally Claire, brought to you by Newman University -- your music!”) or commentary from “listeners” calling in.
I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, "Need You Here"
I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, aka former Panic! At the Disco bassist Dallon Weekes, has unleashed his debut album, Razzmatazz, and "Need You Here" is a wholesome-as-heck standout. It’s dedicated to Amelie and Knox, Weekes’ two kids: “There is no other place in this world that I'd rather be/ If I can't be at home then I'll send my apologies/ 'Can't you stay right here forever, pretty please?'/ I need you here with me, I need you here.” The 12-year-old Amelie also contributes some vocals about missing her daddy when he’s away, and we did not ask for the feels, but here they are.
The Vamps, “Would You”
U.K. band The Vamps have issued a handful of singles from their new album Cherry Blossom, but the sleek, combustible “Would You” is the sort of expertly crafted pop-rock that, with any luck, could make a dent in the U.S. alternative radio space.
Ela Minus, “Dominique”
Colombia native Ela Minus has beguiled the indie blogosphere with her dark, politically-driven electro-pop, and while “Dominique” is a timely examination of isolation, it’s also a dynamically-produced groove, free of computer-generated sound. To great success, Minus prefers an analog approach on her Acts of Rebellion album.
After joining artists like Ashnikko and Rico Nasty in the studio, singer-songwriter Faangs steps into the spotlight with “Huh,” a sucker-punch of an introduction with a handful of competing hooks and a Lindsay Lohan name-check squeezed into slightly over two minutes.
JWestern, “Regret It All”
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more soothing alt-pop track this month than “Regret It All,” a deceptively simple synthesis of influences from Leeds native JWestern’s new Just People EP, which is what a project from Rex Orange County’s upstart younger brother might sound like.
Matoma, Emma Steinbakken, “Wow”
At 17 years old, Norwegian pop star Emma Steinbakken sounds like a seasoned vet on “Wow,” the latest winner from EDM mainstay Matoma, which zags away from the expected, over-the-top chorus in favor of something more understated and affecting.